Pau Gasol will miss both of Blazers’ final two preseason games
The Portland Trail Blazers will be without center Pau Gasol for both of their two remaining preseason games as he continued to deal with a left foot injury, according to Joe Freeman of The Oregonian. Gasol’s status for the team’s opening matchup against the Denver Nuggets remains ‘up in the air.’
Terry Stotts says Pau Gasol will not play in either of the Blazers' final two exhibition games, meaning he will miss the entire preseason. As for opening night, Gasol's playing status remains up in the air.
— Joe Freeman (@BlazerFreeman) October 14, 2019
The Trail Blazers will be lighter on center depth to start the season given that Jusuf Nurkic remains sidelined as he recovers from a serious leg fracture. Not having Gasol ready for their regular-season opener would leave them with Hassan Whiteside, Zach Collins, and even Skal Labissiere as options at the five spot.
It has been a struggle for Gasol to stay healthy since he played in 77 games for the San Antonio Spurs back in 2017-18. In fact, he has played in a total of 57 regular-season games over the last two seasons between his time with the Spurs and his short stint with the Milwaukee Bucks.
The expectation for Gasol’s role with the Blazers appears to be that of a mentor just as much as he is expected to contribute. Gasol recently discussed how he is ‘excited’ to serve as a mentor to Collins and Labissiere during his time with the Blazers.
“I’m excited to work with these guys, Zach, Skal,” Gasol said, via The Oregonian. “They kind of share the mindset and attitude that I’ve had throughout my career as far as getting better, as far as going out there and giving your best, knowing that some nights are going to be better than others, putting in the work, taking it seriously, doing whatever it takes, handling the emotions, the ups and downs of the season, which sometimes can be challenging. With all that, I’m going to be there and I want to be there to help and support and (provide) guidance.”
“I texted him and said how much of a sponge I’m going to be,” Collins said. “Just a guy like that, a Hall of Famer, a legend, someone that has gone up against the best, in the biggest moments and shown up — He’s just an extremely good player, an extremely good dude… He just seems very open to teaching as well, which is huge for us.”
The Blazers will need Gasol to get healthy to maximize their depth to start the season. Given how that has been a struggle for him in recent, seeing progress would be encouraging sooner rather than later.